Even with the Dallas Cowboys having the best offensive line in the league, a budding star at quarterback, and an All-Pro at receiver, Jason Garrett could never get the Cowboys as far as many thought they would go. Garrett is now gone and replaced by former Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy. Dallas is in salary cap hell and will now have to attempt to pay Dak Prescott after this year. It will be interesting to see if McCarthy can make the most of his opportunity with a great offense or if he’ll sputter his way out of Dallas as well.
Make sure to check out all of our in-depth power rankings here.
- Overall – 83.145 (9th)
- Offense – 85.675 (3rd)
- Defense – 80.685 (16th)
- Coach and Culture – 87.75, (4th)
- Home Field Advantage – 84, 11th (4% Defense, 2% Overall)
Quarterbacks – 80, 14th (36% Offense, 27% Overall)
Prescott is the most debated quarterback in the league. He had the best year of his young career last year. He had 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns while also adding three touchdowns on the ground. He’s made himself look foolish as he’s been rumored to want to be paid 40 million each season from the Cowboys. He will play this season on the franchise tag and it seems like Dallas is trying to see if he’s worthy of being paid what he wants. If Prescott can’t at least get the Cowboys to the playoffs, they will likely move on as they have a great backup option behind him.
Andy Dalton is now the backup to Prescott, or the starter if Prescott decides he wants to hold out. Dalton comes over as the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Joe Burrow with the first selection. He was mauled in Cincinnati as his offensive line was horrendous and his star receiver was out the whole season last year. He is the best backup in the league currently and if Prescott struggles, could turn around his career like Ryan Tannehill did this past year. Dalton has better weapons as well as a much better offensive line so if that opportunity comes where he is thrust into action, he has no excuses, just like Prescott.
Clayton Thorson is the third option and the player McCarthy hopes to develop. Thorson was selected by the Eagles but spent last year on the practice squad after being released before the season by Philadelphia.
Running Backs – 92.5, 4th (4% Offense, 3% Overall)
Ezekiel Elliott held out last preseason before signing to a long-term deal that made him the highest-paid back at the time of the signing. Elliott had 1,357 yards on the ground as well as 420 through the air with 14 total touchdowns. Even with Prescott and Elliott, the Cowboys managed to somehow miss out on the postseason. Elliott’s workload took a major hit due to Tony Pollard. Pollard had 101 touches for 562 yards and three touchdowns during his rookie campaign. He also is the kick returner to boot. Pollard is one of the most elusive backs in the league and provides a different skill set than Elliott.
Pass Catchers – 91, 2nd (17% Offense, 8% Overall)
The tandem of Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup was excellent last year. The two combined to catch 145 passes on 232 targets. They totaled over 2,300 yards and 14 touchdowns. Gallup quietly had over 1,100 yards himself and many thought he was in line for even more production this year with Randall Cobb not being retained. However, instead of filling a need at edge rusher, cornerback, or safety with their first-round selection, Dallas opted to make a luxury pick by adding Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.
Lamb had 127 catches for over 2,400 yards and 25 touchdowns in the last two seasons. He will likely line up in the slot where Cobb had over 800 yards last season. Devin Smith was the deep threat in the four games he played last year and had five catches for 113 yards and a touchdown. Cedrick Wilson and Ventell Bryant will likely round out the receiver spots as they are familiar with Prescott and Kellen Moore.
With Jason Witten gone once again, the Cowboys have to find out if one of Blake Jarwin or Dalton Schultz is going to be the long-term answer at the tight end spot. Even with Witten last year, Jarwin caught 31 passes for 365 yards and three touchdowns and will receive even more production as Tavon Austin has left along with Cobb and Witten. Schultz has 13 catches for 122 yards in his two years as a Cowboy.
Offensive Line – 91, 2nd (24% Offense, 12% Overall)
Tyron Smith is winding down his career as the main stable at the left tackle spot. Zack Martin and Connor Williams man the two guard spots, while La’el Collins is in for a monstrous payday, maybe not in Dallas. The Cowboys were hit hard by Travis Frederick‘s retirement but had Joe Looney to fill in that spot as veteran insurance. Looney will likely battle with fourth-round pick, Tyler Biadasz for the starting center spot. Biadasz was seen as a first-round pick before injuries derailed him.
Connor McGovern and Mitch Hyatt both offer some young intriguing depth options who could fill in whenever an injury occurs. McGovern was selected in the third round to potentially succeed Frederick, but Biadasz could be the better option and McGovern could be relegated to depth. Cameron Erving has never lived up to his draft selection but brings some more starting experience to the room.
Run Defense – 83.5, T-10th (6% Defense, 2% Overall)
Dallas finished as the 10th-ranked run defense last year but lost a lot on the interior of the defensive line as Christian Covington, Maliek Collins, and Kerry Hyder are now out of the building. The Cowboys brought in Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe from Carolina who will line up as the starters at the defensive tackle spots. Trysten Hill was their first selection in the draft last year and only had five tackles during his rookie season. The Cowboys also selected Neville Gallimore in the third round of the draft this year. Antwuan Woods returns this year after having 23 tackles in 10 games. The linebacking core is excellent and the three top players at the position are great against the run.
Pass Rush – 76.5, 24th (21% Defense, 10% Overall)
Dallas paid DeMarcus Lawrence mightily and he only had five sacks last year. Robert Quinn is now in Chicago and the Cowboys desperately need players to step up opposite of Lawrence. Tyrone Crawford hasn’t been able to stay healthy but has produced when he is on the field. Dorance Armstrong had two sacks last year, while Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks desperately need to develop in order to stay on the team. Dallas selected Bradlee Anae in the fifth round out of Utah to compete as a rotational piece. Anae was more effective against the run, securing 40 tackles for loss in his career but consistently got after the passer and had 7.5 sacks last year.
The Cowboys have two options that could impact this ranking immensely. Aldon Smith was signed despite not playing a down since 2015. He had 19.5 sacks in 2012 for the 49ers and was out of the league due to substance abuse and personal conduct issues before being reinstated this offseason. Randy Gregory has applied for reinstatement and there is a chance he could be back along with Smith. Gregory and Smith have production but their time away from the field could impact their playing time early in the season in favor of players like Jackson or Jelks.
Linebackers – 88, 1st (15% Defense, 4% Overall)
Dallas comes in as the top-ranked linebacking group in the league. Leighton Vander Esch has been one of the best in the league since he was drafted. Jaylon Smith has proven that the injury he suffered in college isn’t going to derail his career. Sean Lee seemed like the odd man out last year as Smith and Vander Esch were one of the best duos in the league. However, Lee proved he still had some left in the tank as he finished second on the team in tackles. The trio not only offers experience but also mesh well together when they are on the field at the same time. Joe Thomas is the most notable depth piece in the group and he had 33 tackles last year in a rotational role.
Secondary – 82.5, T-10th (26% Defense, 17% Overall)
While the Cowboys only finished with seven interceptions last year, they have a ton of pieces for the secondary to be great. Even with Byron Jones leaving, Dallas has a ton of potential with young players. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are the top cornerbacks on the roster now. Awuzie had 14 pass deflections last year and has been solid since being selected with a second-round pick. Lewis is the slot cornerback that surprisingly had four sacks last year and is extremely scrappy and finds a knack for being around the ball as he led the team in interceptions last year with two. Anthony Brown showed flashes before getting injured last year.
Dallas added Trevon Diggs in the second round of the draft and they hope he can carve a role and become a starter early in the season. Reggie Robinson was an excellent selection in the fourth round. Robinson could factor in at the safety spot or be a depth piece at cornerback but will find a role on special teams immediately. He has had some issues with being grabby at times in coverage or having tackling concerns as well but could find himself on the field sooner rather than later. Daryl Worley and Maurice Canady bring some veteran experience in the room and C.J. Goodwin was brought back as a depth piece from last year.
The safety spot is a big area of concern, part of the reason why the Jamal Adams trade rumblings are alive more than ever. Xavier Woods was great last year and had 77 tackles, five pass deflections, and two interceptions. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was brought in to reunite with McCarthy. Clinton Dix hasn’t been the same since the Packers traded him in 2018. He has shown a lack of effort during his time in Green Bay and it’s clear he isn’t the same player he was in 2016. Darian Thompson had flashes last year and played a significant role. The Cowboys should make a run at Adams, but the price might be too steep.
Coach and Culture – 80.5, T-17th (19% Offense, 28% Defense, 15% Overall)
Yes, the Cowboys finished as the top-ranked offense with Moore calling plays. If you watched the games though, Moore would often call some plays that were questionable at the worst moments. Adding in McCarthy who had Aaron Rodgers changing his plays during games, and that isn’t a good sign. The offense is stout but the coaches might bring them down once again. The Cowboys rank 14th in offensive coach and culture.
Mike Nolan was brought in to be the defensive coordinator. The defense surprisingly ranked 11th last year but the pass rush desperately needs another man besides Lawrence. The secondary has a bundle of players but it is unknown what roles they will be playing. There are a lot of moving pieces on the defense including a new coordinator. Dallas is tied for 21st in defensive coach and culture.
It is a make-or-break year for Dallas. They have gone all-in on seeing if Prescott is the future of the team by giving him even more weapons. The defense has a ton of moving pieces, especially in the secondary, and is relying on some young players at key spots. McCarthy needs to prove that he wasn’t the problem in Green Bay and if it boils down to Prescott getting frustrated with McCarthy as Rodgers did, it could be another long year in Dallas.
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